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                   Strength / 力量

With very few exceptions almost all athletes need strength. It is a mistake to underestimate the importance of properly developing strength throughout the life of the athlete or believing that strength development is not an important factor in your overall performance. With relatively few exceptions, strength does play a significant if not crucial role in the determination of final results. Whether you are a young, developing, elite or recreational athlete, strength should be a significant part of your training. Strength has direct or indirect influence on most of the abilities needed for performance. For example, strength improvement has a direct influence on speed development. Improving the speed gives long distance runner chance to improve average speed during the race so strength indirectly influences outcome of endurance dominated performance.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to lift weights or become overly built to benefit from improvements in strength. Young athletes develop strength through natural, unbroken movements such as jumps, throws and other body weight exercises. Around puberty or shortly after, most athletes should participate in a more structured strength - training program, which may include some weight work. However, even an elite athlete will not do all their strength training in the weight room. Circuit training, which includes little or no weight and can be done in several settings, plyometrics and exercises within the sport of specialization may account for a majority of the strength work time. Recreational and older athletes should take extra care with their strength training since they are more prone to injury. Proper strength training serves not only to improve overall performance, but also to secure the body and help the athlete avoid injury.

The external expression of strength is force.  force = mass(weight) x acceleration
Increases in force can come from raising both resistance and acceleration or by raising either one of them alone. In sports such as weightlifting where strength growth is accomplished through increased resistance (mass), speed of contraction stays constant. On the other hand, in throwing and jumping sports, mass stays constant and the main factor in raising force is through increasing the speed of contraction. There are some exceptions to this rule, but this gives you the idea. Because of the different ways in which maximum force is produced and the specificity of sports, strength has many practical expressions.

The most general methods used in evaluating an athlete's strength are absolute and relative strength. Absolute Maximum Strength refers to the maximum force exerted in one attempt and does not take into account body weight. This type of strength is very important for sports like training and sports like throwing, weight lifting in heavy weight category, etc. Relative Strength represents the ratio between an athlete's absolute strength and body weight. In sports like gymnastics or sports with weight categories like weight lifting or fight sport this type of strength is much more important to performance. The second way to categorize is general and specific. This is used in practical training programming. General Strength refers to the strength of the whole body and is the foundation of the entire strength program development, regardless of the sport. It must be highly developed during the first few years of training for beginners and also must be a part of training for all levels of athletes during the preparatory period. Specific Strength is strength if the muscles particulars to a specific movement. It must be developed to the maximum possible level toward the end of the preparatory phase and maintained throughout the season for all elite class athletes.

Strength is commonly substituted or interchanged with the word power. Power, of course, is a product of two abilities, speed and strength. In sports, it relates to the ability to perform the maximum force in the shortest period of time. In some sports, such as shot put, javelin and jumping events, it is crucial to overcome resistance with the greatest possible speed. In these cases, power is the major factor in determining performance.

Many coaches look for athletes with a quality called strength reserve and associate this characteristic with the potential for high achievement. Strength Reserve is a ratio between the average needed strength for a sport and the absolute strength of an athlete. Those athletes with higher reserve strength are considered by many to be more capable of reaching higher performance when properly trained.

Strength Development 力量發展

In the practical application of strength to the programming of training two categories are used:
General and Specific.

General Strength refers to the strength of the whole body and is the foundation of development for the entire strength program, regardless of the sport. It must be highly developed during the first few years of training for beginners and also must be a part of training for all levels of athletes during the preparatory period. General strength incorporates a variety of methods including:

1. Maximal Loads Method-maximum strength development with minimal muscle enlargement and great improvement in the tonus of the muscle. Exercises should be done using loads of 90 - 100% with short maximum efforts with slow execution of motion.

2. Body Building or Muscle Enlargement Method-characterized by a large number of sets of repetitions with submaximal loads of 60 - 80%. The execution of the movement is rapid to slow and ends with complete muscular failure.

There are several variations of this method:

A low number of sets leading to complete failure at the end of every set
A higher number of sets leading to complete failure only in the last sets
A every set and number of sets done to complete failure

After approximately four weeks the athlete must increase the load and/or shorten the rest between sets and/or increase the number of sets to maintain progress.

3. Circuit Training Method-combines improvement of strength, speed and endurance. Used for general development and by all sports in which resistance to muscle fatigue is an integral part of a successful performance. It is also used as a warm up before the main strength training and in the preparatory cycle. The circuit should consist of a minimum of 8 - 12 exercises. The choice of exercises depends on the goal and the sport. Loads vary from 30 - 60% of max strength, to as low as the own body weight. The use of medicine balls, bungee cords and other low resistance tools allow exercises to be dynamic and incorporate a variety of movements, helping to develop flexibility and coordination. All exercises should be done fast.

4. Muscular Endurance Training Method-similar to circuit training with resistance varying from 40- 60%. The number of repetition is 30 or more per set. The speed of the work is slow to medium. It is the basic method of maintaining strength for athletes in endurance sports.

Specific Strength is strength of the muscles particular to a specific movement which includes all characteristics like speed, acceleration, resistance and etc.. It must be developed to the maximum possible level toward the end of the preparatory phase and maintained throughout the season for all elite class athletes. It is not essential for young, developing or recreational athletes to spend a substantial amount of time developing specific strength since it is sport specific and requires that an athlete has become highly specialized in a particular sport. However, because of the ease of the exercises, many athletes, knowingly or not, use specific strength methods.

Development of specific strength includes doing sports imitated movements, which are as close as possible to the particular aspect being developed.
Some examples include: Using ergometers and simulators with regulation of resistance

The method of specific strength development depends on dynamic characteristics of the chosen sport. Taking under consideration motor requirements and the form of movements, we can generally divide sports into four groups:

Strength-Speed Sports
 (e.g. jumps, throws, sprints, etc.) characterized by maximum intensity of work

Endurance Sports
 (e.g. running, cycling, cross country skiing, rowing, etc).

High Coordination & Precision Sports
(e.g. gymnastics, figure skating, diving, etc.)

Complex Sports
 (judo, boxing, wrestling, soccer, basketball,) characterized by regimented mixture of highly developed motor skills

In the case of strength-speed sports, specific strength development will focus on explosive strength. Endurance sports specific strength should be developed simultaneously with muscular endurance. In high coordination-precision demanding sports specific strength development should be combined with development of high coordination skills. Activities here include all types of static and dynamic strength

Periodization of Strength

Like other characteristics of sports abilities, strength development has a cyclic profile.
There are three stages of strength development:

1. Multilateral Development- general strength development of the entire body without specific    development for a particular sport

2. Direct Development- strength development in a group of muscles, which are sport specific

3. Specific Development-strength development with simultaneous modeling of other characteristics (e.g. speed endurance, technique)

Periodization is done not only at different levels of long term development, but also repeated throughout every yearly cycle.

(build up, flexibility and connective tissue development)

Max strength development

Transformation to sport specificity
(e.g. development of muscular endurance, power, explosiveness, etc.)

Maintenance of max strength

Within the annual cycle, goals for strength training vary depending on the time of the year. In the first part of the preparatory period you should reach the level of strength from the previous year. During the second part of the preparatory period you should strive to improve chosen parameters of strength. During the competition season you should maintain the level of strength from the preparatory period. And finally, during the transition you should be sure to prevent major losses of strength.

                                                                                                                                             1999 Sport is Life

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